Parish Council Roles
A Parish Council must appoint such officers as it thinks necessary for the proper discharge of its functions
Read more below about the roles of each member of the Parish Council
The Chairman is often the public face of the Council. A Chairman's allowance is a useful sum of money in the budget to enable the Chairman to represent the Council in a Civic capacity (not currently applied). It allows for the purchase, for example of a bouquet of flowers for a Councillor who is ill, raffle tickets or moderate hospitality. The Chairman must keep an accurate account of any money spent under this allowance.
The Chairman often speaks on behalf of the Council, but must remember to express the views of the Council and not personal views. If in doubt the Chairman refers to points agreed in the Council minutes. The Clerk should be able to give the Chairman clear guidance on the Councils corporate view.
By law the Chairman cannot make a formal decision on behalf of the Council. Occasionally this can put the onus on the Clerk to decide whether it is lawful to act on the Chairman's advice.
A Clerks workload can include a range of activities – outlined in a clear and meaningful job description.
As an independent and objective professional, the Clerk advises the Council on whether decisions are lawful and ways in which decisions can be implemented. The Clerk can be asked to research a range of topics of concerns to the Council and provide unbiased information that helps the Council make appropriate choices.
It is good practice for a Council to delegate to the Clerk the power to make decisions on its behalf – especially in an urgent situation.
The Clerk keeps up to date with all developments affecting the work of the Council and should therefore be alert to training needs and opportunities.
The Clerk is often a manager whose responsibilities might include for example managing projects, sites, facilities, money, teams, staff.
The Clerk and other staff are employed by the Council as a body and not by each individual Councillor. Councillors should not intervene in the management of other staff which are the Clerks responsibility.
Clanfield Parish Council employ the clerk (also the RFO) for 26 hours per week (business hours not usually Fridays); the Council employ (as of September 2017) an Administrative Assistant/Open Spaces Officer for 10 hours per week whose role is to support the Clerk in an administrative role and also check the Parish Open Spaces and manage the allotment as of 2017/18.
Councillors must make a formal declaration accepting the Office of Councillor at (or before) the first meeting after an election (normally the AGM) or at a Councillors first meeting. The Chairman makes a separate declaration to accept the office of Chairman every year – but a declaration is not required from the Vice Chairman – the Councillors declarations must also be signed by the Clerk.
Councillors must make a written undertaking to observe the local Code of Conduct. This normally accompanies the declaration of acceptance of office. Co-opted Councillors may not act as Councillors until they have made the written undertaking. The written undertaking is normally combined with the formal declaration of acceptance of office.
The declaration and agreement should be an item on the appropriate agenda. If Councillors fail to declare their acceptance of office or to sign up to the Code within the time limit, in law, they are not Councillors.
Councillors are disqualified from office if they do not attend at least one meeting of the council during a period of six consecutive months – all meetings count including sub committees, working parties, site meetings (usually related to a planning issue) and meetings where that Councillor represents the Council.
It is good practice to note that the reasons for a Councillors apology were accepted (or not) as a matter of routine but the reasons do not need to be recorded. If it is appropriate to prevent disqualification after six months, the Council must vote on whether to accept the reason given for continued non attendance.
Councillors are also disqualified if they are declared bankrupt, if they have been convicted in the last five years or if they have engaged in corrupt or legal activity. For further information on this the Clerk can enquire as to what convictions apply.